KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 — Umno supreme council member Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin is a “political dinosaur who belongs in a museum”, says former deputy defence minister Liew Chin Tong.
The Johor DAP chief said throughout Malaysia’s electoral history, the only times that the ruling coalition has won more than 55 per cent of the vote were in 1974 (60.73 per cent), 1982 (60.54 per cent), 1995 (65.16 per cent) and 2004 (63.85 per cent).
In all other general elections, Barisan Nasional’s (BN) popular vote hovered around 50 to 60 per cent.
Liew’s comments come in response to Zahidi’s remarks yesterday in which the Umno MP for Padang Besar blamed Malaysians for causing the almost 50:50 split in the government, saying it makes passing important policies and Bills difficult.
“Yesterday, the big mouth Zahidi Zainul Abidin blamed the Malaysian voters for voting a 50:50 result in 2018. Such political dinosaurs belong in the museum.
“Malaysia’s political scene has been a 50:50 split for more than a decade. In 2008, BN received 51 per cent of popular votes; in 2013, BN got 47 per cent and in 2018, Pakatan Harapan won 48 per cent of popular votes in a three-cornered setting,” said Liew in his personal blog today.
“But the then ruling party ruled as if it garnered 95 per cent of the vote thanks to a gerrymandered and twisted electoral system that favoured BN. More importantly, BN’s then opponents were split, i.e. DAP and PAS were on two ends of the spectrum and couldn’t form a singular Opposition coalition to challenge BN,” he added.
Liew added that most elections will be closely fought in the future, and as such, the ruling party must not alienate the Opposition and ensure it is treated fairly.
He cautioned that the current ruling coalition could lose and become the Opposition in the future.
He gave the example of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s tiff where both leaders could not find common ground for cooperation, resulting in their former ally Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin forming the Perikatan Nasional government behind their backs.
He also said that Muhyiddin’s rise to power was so swift that he is finding his tenure increasingly difficult as support wanes from his coalition partners whom he once called enemies during campaigning for PH during the 14th general elections.
“Muhyiddin repeated the same mistakes, at an even faster pace. On the day Muhyiddin formed his Cabinet, the Umno leadership felt that they were on a pirate ship of their own making and regretted instantly.
“Muhyiddin’s Cabinet was constructed out of his own fear of other competing political players and not one that is based on trust and power sharing.
“All the troubles we see now were sowed on the day he appointed his Cabinet,” he said.
With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting Malaysia hard, Muhyiddin’s request for the declaration of a state of emergency was denied by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Liew said the days where power lies only in the prime minister’s hands are over.
He urged Muhyiddin to work with the Opposition to find common ground, especially during these testing times when ally Umno’s support of him appears to be wavering.
“Umno’s ceasefire with Muhyiddin won’t last if Muhyiddin still acts as if he is a prime minister which controls two-thirds of the seats the coalition has.
“The point is to govern with as much bipartisanship as one could,” he said.